When I first moved here from the cactus-ridden deserts of Arizona, I came stocked with one light sweater (just in case), a toothbrush and a smile.
Little did I know that Colorado Springs would immediately go through what was said to be one of the coldest winters in decades. I would walk outside, and my knees would buckle because my lungs would reject the ice-cold oxygen. And all natives could say was, "You gotta buy thermal long-johns," as if that was the secret to living in Colorado.
Well, then: Throw on your spiffiest pair and get ready for a winter that's more tightly packed with events than the snowballs you make with your bare hands. Around the Pikes Peak region, you can toss fruitcakes or visit a site that claims to show off almost a million lights. Farther away, you can take in snowboarding, skiing or snow sculpting.
Whatever your tastes, we'll help guide you to a season that gets your blood flowing (either figuratively or literally). Just remember: good ol' Santa is going to have to deliver the presents this year. We don't do that.
19th annual Chocolate Tasting Festival
Feast on fresh chocolate while touring the historic town of Creede, in southwestern Colorado.
Victorian Days Weekend
Experience this year's holidays the 19th-century way, with a weekend in Leadville. Includes a parade of lights, Santa and a Victorian-style dinner.
Winter WildLand at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
This "Wildly Festive Experience" updates a Colorado Springs tradition. The zoo will be decked out in hundreds of thousands of lights, as usual, but it also will offer "Sky Rides" to Santa's workshop and campfire storytelling, as well as live musical performances on some nights.
Rocky Mountain Freestyle Mogul Competition
Watch the nation's top mogul skiers compete on Ambush Trail at the famous Winter Park Resort.
Vail Snow Daze
A smorgasbord of winter-fun activities, from fashion shows to snowball-eating contests. Don't miss the Dummy Gelunde World Championships, an exciting spectacle that involves "dummies" and "big air" jumps. Big Head Todd & the Monsters will be playing on Dec. 11.
U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix
Watch top snowboarders from around the world compete for the title of overall winner in the largest competitive snowboarding tour at our own Copper Mountain.
Snowflakes and Smiles Parade
For fans of small-town get-togethers and yearly tradition, this parade through Manitou Springs will start at noon. Enjoy floats, local school marching bands and Santa Claus.
U.S. Freestyle Selections
If you haven't had your fill of skiing, or of Winter Park, you'll be pleased to hear that the resort's also hosting this freestyle skiing competition. The winner grabs a spot on the U.S. Freestyle Team.
Aspen Academy Screenings
As a lead up to the Oscars, the 18th annual Aspen Academy Screenings is a two-week, public event showcasing some of the year's most critically acclaimed films.
The Great Fruitcake Toss
In its 14th year, the toss at Manitou's Memorial Park will bring out both creativity and competition. Categories include hand-throwing and build-your-own device (nothing gas-powered, so calm down).
Ouray Ice Festival
Still known as the leader of the ice-climbing pack, the Ouray Ice Festival is coming back for its 14th year. Offering clinics, dinners, parties and more.
19th annual Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships
International artists descend on Breckenridge to take on big chunks of ice with only their bare hands and a chisel.
ESPN Winter X Games
If you haven't heard of the X Games (or even if you have), this is the competition to attend. Events include skiing, snowboarding and a snowmobile competition. All events are free and will take place in Aspen/Snowmass at Buttermilk Mountain.
2009 U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships
Crested Butte Mountain Resort was the first in the States to launch an extreme skiing contest. This six-day competitive event marks its 18th year in 2009.
Take a pass
Tis the season when we pack our bags, grab friends and family, and head to freshly powdered mountains. But dont fire up the Volvo or Subaru just yet unless you want to pay through the nose, youre going to need a pass. Some popular passes have already gone off the market, but youve still got plenty of options; below are a half-dozen that cover some of the most popular destinations of Springs snow-sports enthusiasts. All prices listed here apply to adult passes; most resorts offer discounted prices (or even special passes) for children, students and/or seniors.
Rocky Mountain Super Pass $409
A lot like the Plus version (see below), this pass provides unrestricted riding and skiing at Winter Park Resort and Copper Mountain, sans the free Fridays and freebies. Must be purchased in person by Nov. 23.
Monarch Season Pass $419
Monarch's pass is designed for those of us who don't like to stay in one place all winter. It offers access to nine resorts and mountains, including Loveland, Durango, Angel Fire, Alta, Powderhorn and more. Most locations have no blackout dates. On sale throughout the season.
Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus $439
The Super Pass Plus is the cream of the Rocky Mountain pass crop, offering unlimited skiing and riding at Winter Park and Copper, plus six unrestricted days and unlimited Friday afternoons for the season at Steamboat. And with purchase this year, you'll receive two Whistler Blackcomb lift tickets as freebies. Pass must be purchased in person by Nov. 23.
Ski 3 Pass $579
The Ski 3 is valid for unlimited access to three mountains: Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin. On sale through Dec. 20.
Epic Season Pass $629
This one's new for the 2008-09 season, providing unlimited, unrestricted access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly. On sale through Dec. 1.
Perfect 10 Pass $629
For the occasional but discerning skier, this pass offers 10 days of access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly. Blackout dates are Dec. 20 to Jan. 1. On sale starting Dec. 2.